Mental ill health costs employers in the UK £30 billion every year through lost production, recruitment and absence.
Promoting positive mental health in your workplace can therefore be hugely beneficial. Staff with good mental health are more likely to perform well, have good attendance levels and be engaged in their work.
So how can employers put more focus on addressing signs of ill mental health in the workplace and prevent problems from escalating?
Reviewing recruitment and onboarding methods can determine if everything is being done to protect an employee’s wellbeing from the very start of the relationship. Onboarding is a chance to channel the enthusiasm of a new starter into engagement with the team and connecting to the company culture. At this stage any guesswork and extra stress should be minimalised. Explaining what they need to know before they need to know it, assures new and existing employees that they are valued and have all the necessary tools to succeed. This clearly shows that employers care about their employees and is more likely to foster a happy and effective workplace. Read our six steps to ensure the successful onboarding of a new employee.
Limit excessive working hours
Often it’s the hardest working employees who find it the toughest to manage their own work/life balance and believe that the more hours they work the more productive they are. Quantity over quality is just not the case. Managers should encourage their employees to take their lunch hour and regular breaks and not work excessively long hours. Instead of allowing the rest of the team to take the burden of stretched resources onto themselves employers should look to find the root of this problem.
Monitor staff wellbeing
Managers should be committed to finding the most effective ways to measure wellbeing across the business. Staff surveys or one-to-one interviews can identify pressure points at a department, team and individual level. Being seen as proactive and approachable encourages employees to offer ideas and opinions in an informal and relaxed environment. Welcoming and listening to an employee’s worries will make them feel valued which in turn improves their wellbeing at work.
Employees need to know how their role relates to the company’s overall structure and the big picture. Regular catch-ups will ensure expectations are met on both sides and install belief and trust into the team, reducing feelings of inadequacy. It’s important to stay focused on solutions and progression, which people tend to respond positively to, whereas focusing on faults can have negative outcomes and cause even more stress.
Claire Bond, Director at Bond Williams, urges employers to pay attention to the human and business cost of stress. She says:
“Research shows that less than half of employees would tell their manager if they were feeling stressed and so it can remain an invisible but detrimental business risk. Managers need to foster an environment where staff can feel comfortable to disclose a mental health problem, and provide simple information to support their employees through any period of mental ill health to help their recovery. Managing mental health at work is central to good business performance. Stress is the number one cause of long-term sickness absence, but it is not just time lost to absence which impacts on the bottom line. Supporting staff through a difficult period does not have to cost the earth and can have huge benefits for any organisation.”
Employers and managers should not be expected to be experts in mental health. However they should know where they and their team can go for further support:
Access to work – www.gov.uk/access-to-work – can provide advice and an assessment of workplace needs for individuals, with disabilities or long-term health conditions, who are already in work or about to start. Grants may also be available to help cover the cost of workplace adaptations.
Business in the Community – www.bitc.org.uk – is a network that provides toolkits on Mental Health, Suicide prevention and Suicide postvention to help employers support the mental health and wellbeing of employees.
Mind – www.mind.org.uk – is a leading mental health charity in England and Wales. It provides information and support on how to improve mental health.
Mindful Employer – www.mindfulemployer.net – is a UK-wide, NHS initiative. It is aimed at increasing awareness of mental health at work and providing support for businesses when recruiting and retaining staff.
Remploy – www.remploy.co.uk – offers a free and confidential Workplace Mental Health Support Service for anyone absent from work or finding work difficult because of a mental health condition. It aims to help people remain in, or return to, their role.
Rethink Mental Illness – www.rethink.org – is a voluntary sector provider of mental health services offering support groups, advice and information on mental health and problems.
Claire has almost 25 years Recruitment experience. A specialist in the regional recruitment marketplace, Claire has extensive local knowledge and holds a reputation for quality, integrity, honesty and excellent matching. Heading up the HR and Office & Commercial Divisions of Bond Williams. Claire is responsible for the overall growth and …